President Park Geun-hye has expressed indirect opposition to Japan becoming a sixth permanent member of the UN Security Council.
"It is better to increase the non-permanent membership of the UNSC when reforming the Security Council," Park said in an interview with India's Doordarshan TV on Jan. 9, a day before she left for India.
"The Korean government thinks this way of reform to be more desirable because it can better help the UNSC actively cope with changing international circumstances."
A government official said the comments reflect Seoul's stance on the issue of reforming the UN Security Council in general and do not target a specific country. But Park's response strongly hints that the government does not want Japan to assume greater international responsibility while it is being led by ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Korea is also a member of an informal group within the UN that wants to prevent Japan, Germany and other countries from getting a permanent seat on the council.
Park said she believes UN Security Council reforms should "simultaneously" pursue increased responsibility, democracy, representation and efficiency. In other words, more permanent members would make it more difficult to operate the Security Council efficiently due to the increased exercise of veto powers.
This is why the government has opposed any increase in the number of permanent members since 1998.